Thoughts On A Book Blurb

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Thoughts On A Book Blurb

Does Anyone Look At These Things?

 

Blurbs…words on the back of paperbacks…ones we read if we get past the cover.

Does anyone read them before deciding?

Honestly, I’d relegated blurbs to that pile of I’ve got to do this before I finish…until I handed my old Paperwhite to my sister-in-law the night before we came home.

At breakfast, she had it.

My mouth got dry and my heart raced.

Then she turned to me. “The battery ran down so I didn’t get far.  But you need a synopsis…or blurb…or something.  I can’t tell what’s going on.”  Done, he handed it back and went off to pack.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I wanted to argue, but got that Do Not Say A Word from my S.O.  Hurt, with lots of thoughts screaming through my mind, I said nothing to her.  Eventually, my writerly self took over.

When I ran my WIP through Beta Readers on Scrib, they knew it was fantasy.  And I’d mislabeled it Romance – Fantasy, instead of fantasy with a love story subplot.  If only I’d learned.

My sister read my revised version and loved it…but she’s my sister…and loves me unconditionally.

On the other hand…my sister-in-law knew nothing about my WIP, or genre.  And…she’s seldom reads fantasy.  Besides, I hadn’t prepared her in any way…a perfect cold reader…one I  confused.  Priceless.  Painful but priceless.

And I proved, again, how very, very blind I am.

I’m sick and tired of being completely stupid.

A blurb seemed a good first step.

When in doubt, rely on google — How To Write Blurbs.  Within seconds, I had dozens of hits, and found helpful sites:

  1. https://homeofhighfantasy.com/2015/04/12/eight-blurb-tips-big-publishers-dont-share/
  2. http://nicholasrossis.me/2015/05/02/dos-and-donts-on-writing-a-book-blurb/
  3. http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/4-easy-steps-to-an-irresistable-book-blurb/

While #1 and #2 had good tips, #3 also offered a formula.

I turned to Amazon and looked up numerous fantasy titles.  Some blurbs engaged me immediately…others didn’t.  Out of curiosity, I also Looked Inside.  Generally, polished blurbs meant higher quality writing inside.

Then…I journeyed to the library and pulled ten random hard-cover books, flipped each to the back and found…no blurb.  They live on the inside jacket.  But, paperbacks have blurbs on the back.  Again…the quality and approach varied dramatically.

Unable to stall any longer, I settled on the approach offered on the third site:

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/4-easy-steps-to-an-irresistable-book-blurb/

Her simple layout lays it all out:

  1. Situation
  2. Problem
  3. Hope
  4. Mood

It’s similar to a 27 word logline, except we try for 200 words or less.  But I’d never considered #4…describing the genre and not the story.

These wonderful exercises remind me I have little natural talent…that I have to work to make writing remotely compelling and interesting.  My first try, although 200 words long, read clunky and long.  After applying tips from sites #1 and #2, it flows better.

Anyway, it’s good enough to get feedback on Scrib…assuming anyone notices.  I might post all three versions here.

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9 thoughts on “Thoughts On A Book Blurb

  1. Yay! Firstly so happy you’ve finally reached the stage of writing the blurb! Congratulations! Secondly, you do have plenty of natural talent, even if you modest about it.

    Thirdly – now I get to the point (Ha!) blurbs are just a marketing tool – polished blurbs – like political speeches (written by professional speech writers) are written by experts in marketing departments so be kind to yourself (thanks for sharing the links I’ll check them out). I’ve even read traditional romances by big publishers with the ‘wrong blurb’. What may have happened was the blurb was written before final revisions.

    Once again congratulations on reaching this stage!

    • You are so sweet Bigga. 🙂

      I did post a version in Scrib’s BLURB Group. Sue gave me some awesome feedback.

      And I know all about wrong blurbs. I was never more embarrassed than when the betas came back and said, hey, this isn’t a romance. In romances, the girl gets the guy. What’s worse…I knew that. I hope my new blurb doesn’t over-promise.

      And, yes…I get that a publishing house would take all that over…but what are the chances of ever being picked. Not very high. 😦

  2. Hi, Silent Mocachins. Many thanks for the kind mention 🙂 Making the first chapter un-put-downable and writing the perfect blurb were probably the hardest parts of my entire writing career 😀

    • Oh, wow…someone noticed me. 🙂

      I hear you with your thoughts of how to get people into the story. We have that title, author name, cover art, and blurb to get them to peek inside. I wish I knew what I was doing. 🙂

  3. One thing, which I think is covered by what you’ve got, but not said outright, the blurb is the promise. When I wrote the last blurb I had to, I made a list of what sorts of promises I wanted to make the reader, and realized that list was almost exactly the same as the one for my first chapter.

    Also, talent or not(because really what is talent anyway) I’ve seen how much you’ve learned, and it’s been quite a journey. I’m quite often in admiration of the sheer amount of determination you’ve got.

    • Promises…the word I was looking for…and a list. I love the idea…I’m going to remember it.

      Next time, I’m wondering if I should try for the blurb when I work on outlines. That might be fun…maybe a way to capture the essence of the backstory.

      🙂

      • Making a blurb be part of an Outline is a very intriguing idea. Between getting stuff hammered out enough to write a blurb and than having that blurb available to anyone who gives feedback on the outline I can see plenty of advantages.

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